Category: MLB draft

Chukars open season without any 2016 draft picks

Idaho Falls Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan, right, watches right-hander Reid Redman on Tuesday night at the team’s first workout at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars’ season gets underway with an exhibition game against the Idaho Falls Bandits Thursday night. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
Idaho Falls Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan, right, watches right-hander Reid Redman on Tuesday night at the team’s first workout at Melaleuca Field. The Chukars’ season gets underway with an exhibition game against the Idaho Falls Bandits Thursday night. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Baked into the Idaho Falls Chukars’ 2016 opening day roster was a piece of history.

Idaho Falls’ initial roster features zero players selected in the most recent MLB draft, the first time that’s happened since the team became a Kansas City Royals’ affiliate in 2004, according the Chukars general manager Kevin Greene.

Timing contributed heaviest to I.F.’s unique group of 27 players, who graced Melaleuca Field for their first workout Tuesday night. But the current roster will change throughout the season, and some of the 2016 draftees will likely don Chukars uniforms this summer.

“It’s not like we’re getting rejects or anything,” Greene said. “There are players here who have earned the right to come back into this organization for second or third years.”

The Chukars’ previous 11 seasons as a Kansas City affiliate started at least seven days after the MLB draft concluded. That week-plus gave the Royals time to sign their draftees, put them through the post-draft process and assign them to their respective minor league teams.

This year was different. The draft ended on Saturday, a mere five days before the Chukars’ exhibition game against the Idaho Falls Bandits. Kansas City’s other Rookie-level team, the Burlington Royals, doesn’t begin its season until next week. Same goes for the Arizona League Royals, Kansas City’s third short-season team. So the most logical decision for Kansas City’s front office was to assign its recently signed rookies to Burlington and Arizona.

The Idaho Falls Chukars held their first workout at Melaleuca Field on Tuesday night. The team has an exhibition game on Thursday night against the Idaho Falls Bandits and will begin Pioneer League play on Friday. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)
The Idaho Falls Chukars held their first workout at Melaleuca Field on Tuesday night. The team has an exhibition game on Thursday night against the Idaho Falls Bandits and will begin Pioneer League play on Friday. (Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

“It takes time to get those players signed and get them into the organization and just go through the process of preparing them for the season,” said Ronnie Richardson, Kansas City’s director of minor league operations. “They’re drafted on the 11th. To expect them to be (in I.F.) playing games on the 16th is not quite realistic.”

Richardson said Kansas City has to evaluate its recent draft class before it can decide to send any of those 40 players to I.F. But Greene was confident that his team would receive some 2016 draftees this season, and sooner than later. Either way, he and Chukars manager Justin Gemoll are pleased with the current roster.

“I’m happy because all of these guys were in extended (spring training),” Gemoll said. “They’re familiar with each other. It’s just a matter of keeping it going.”

The Chukars have seven players who finished last season in I.F. pitchers Nick Andros, Brian Bayliss, Arnaldo Hernandez, Drew Milligan and Matt Portland, and infielders Ryan Dale and Brandon Dulin. I.F. was also the last stop for right-hander Sam Lewis, only in 2014.

David Edwards is the lone true rookie on the team. The former Loyola Marymount infileder was signed as a free agent in February.

Fifteen of I.F.’s 27 players were undrafted free agents. The highest draft pick in the group is right-hander Alex Luna, who the Royals took in the 10th round of the 2015 draft.

The Chukars will take the field on Wednesday at 5 p.m. for media day and hold their second team workout at 7 p.m. It is open to the public.

The Chukars face the Bandits at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday and host the Ogden Raptors on Friday at the same time to begin their season. I.F. lost to the Missoula Osprey in the Pioneer League Championship last season.

2016 Chukars opening day roster

LHP Nicholas Andrus
SS Ricky Aracena
RHP Brian Bayliss
LHP Enmanuel Camacho
3B Angelo Castellano
LHP Reinaldo Cepin
3B Ryan Dale
1B Brandon Dulin
2B David Edwards
RHP Igol Feliz
LHP Christian Flecha
C Colton Frabasilio
RHP Jason Freeman
RHP Arnaldo Hernandez
RHP Sam Lewis
RHP Alex Luna
RHP Andres Machado
OF Yeison Melo
LHP Drew Milligan
3B Manny Olloque
LHP Matt Portland
RHP Reid Redman
OF Jose Sanchez
OF Tanner Stanley
C Meibrys Viloria
LHP Cole Way
OF Luke Willis

Correction (6/15): An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when David Edwards was signed as a free agent. That has been corrected.

MLB draft provides glimpse of future Chukars

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The MLB draft concluded Saturday, and several of the Kansas City Royals selections will appear at Melaleuca Field this summer.

The Royals have sent about 11 freshly drafted players per season to the Chukars since 2012, when teams saw their picks reduced from 50 to 40. Most of those players joined Idaho Falls on opening day, and some turned into future stars.

The Chukars’ rookie crop last season was relatively small compared to recent years. Kansas City’s highest 2015 pick on I.F.’s opening day roster was outfielder Roman Collins (fifth round). Five more 2015 selections made the Chukars’ initial roster, and they were all selected in the 14th round or later.

But other draftees started to roll in. Flame-throwing right-handed pitcher Josh Staumont (second round) joined the Chukars in July, as did outfielder Cody Jones (sixth round). Right-handers Daniel Concepcion (12th round), Matt Ditman (16th round) and Jacob Bodner (27th round) also came to I.F. later in the season.

The Chukars received 14 of Kansas City’s 2014 draftees that summer, and they all made the opening day roster. Two of those players were left-hander Eric Skoglund (third round) and first-baseman Ryan O’Hearn (eighth round) both of whom are top-30 prospects in Kansas City’s system, per multiple baseball scouting websites. O’Hearn, who currently plays for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, was the Pioneer League MVP in 2014.

Triple-A Omaha shortstop Hunter Dozier was selected eighth overall in 2013 and played 54 games for the Chukars that year. Dozier is currently Kansas City’s 11th-best prospect, according to FanGraphs.com (O’Hearn is fifth).

Kansas City forfeited its first-round pick this year after signing free-agent pitcher Ian Kennedy last offseason, per the Kansas City Star. But the Royals had a pick in each of the final 39 rounds, and they used their first to select Pepperdine right-hander AJ Puckett (No. 67 in round two).

The Chukars will announce their full opening day roster in the next few days. Their season starts Friday at Melaleuca Field versus Ogden. They also face the Idaho Falls Bandits in an exhibition Thursday.

Kansas City Royals’ 2016 draft class
AJ Puckett / second round / RHP / Pepperdine
Khalil Lee / third round / CF / Flint Hill School (Va.)
Jace Vines / fourth round / RHP / Texas A&M
Nicholas Lopez / fifth round / SS / Creighton
Cal Jones / sixth round / CF / Dadeville (Ala.) HS
Travis Eckert / seventh round / RHP / Oregon State
Chris DeVito / eighth round / 1B / New Mexico
Walker Sheller / ninth round / RHP / Stetson
Richard Lovelady / 10th round / LHP / Kennesaw State
Vance Vizcaino / 11th round / CF / Stetson
Jeremy Gwinn / 12th round / RHP / Colby CC
Logan Gray / 13th round / 2B / Austin Peay
David McKay / 14th round / RHP / Florida Atlantic
Mike Messier / 15h round / LHP / Bellarmine
Nick Heath / 16th round / CF / Northwestern State
Dillon Drabble / 17th round / RHP / Seminole State
Vance Tatum / 18th round / LHP / Mississippi State
Tyler Fallwell / 19th round / RHP / Cochise
Anthony Bender / 20th round / RHP / Santa Rosa JC
Dalton Griffin / 21st round / CF / South Effingham HS (Ga.)
Cody Nesbit / 22nd round / RHP / San Jacinto North
Kort Peterson / 23rd round / OF / UC Los Angeles
Mike McCann / 24th round / C / Seattle
Robby Rinn / 25th round / 1B / Bryant
John Brontsema / 26th round / 3B / UC Irvine
Rex Hill / 27th round / LHP / TCU
Yordany Salva / 28th round / C / Broward
Grant Gavin / 29th round / RHP / Central Missouri
Geoffrey Bramblett / 30th round / RHP / Alabama
Malcolm Van Buren / 31st round / RHP / Hanahan (S.C.) HS
Luke Bandy / 32nd round / CF / Providence Classical Christian Academy
Kameron Misner / 33rd round / OF / Poplar Bluff (Mo.) HS
Nathan Webb / 34th round / RHP / Lee’s Summit (Mo.) North HS
M.J. Sanchez / 35th round / C / California Baptist
Alex Massey / 36th round / RHP / Tulane
Justin Camp / 37th round / RHP / Auburn
Joey Fregosi / 38th round / SS / Murrieta Valley HS (Calif.)
Chase Livingston / 39th round / C / Rhode Island
Taylor Kaczmarek / 40th round / RHP / San Diego

Chukars announce five opening-day players

On Saturday, the Chukars announced the first five players assigned to Idaho Falls. They are Igol Feliz, Arnaldo Hernandez, Drew Milligan, Tanner Stanley and Miebrys Viloria.

Milligan is a left-handed pitcher who made 17 relief appearances for I.F. last season, amassing a 4.07 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 13 walks.

Feliz and Hernandez are both right-handed pitchers. Feliz signed with the Royals in 2011 and played for Rookie-level Burlington last season. Hernandez made one appearance (a start) for the Chukars in 2015, allowing six runs (two earned) in four innings.

Stanley, the son of former MLB catcher and first baseman Mike Stanley, is an outfielder in his second minor league season with the Royals.

Viloria is a catcher who spent part of 2014 and all of 2015 in Burlington.

Royals select TCU pitcher Finnegan in first round

Finnegan

KANSAS CITY, Mo.— The Kansas City Royals selected TCU left-hander Brandon Finnegan with their first-round pick in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft Thursday night.

“I couldn’t be happier to get Brandon, a left-handed pitcher with plus stuff,” Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said. “We’re very surprised that he was there when we picked.”

Scouts are divided on whether Finnegan projects as a starter or reliever. The 5-foot-11 junior dealt with a stiff shoulder this past season, raising concerns about his durability. Finnegan led the Horned Frogs in strikeouts the last two seasons.

Finnegan’s fastball has been clocked in the upper 90s, though it tends to sit between 90 and 95 mph. He also has a curveball and slider that are both developing.

The Royals chose him with the 17th overall pick. The club also had the No. 28 pick Thursday night as compensation for losing Ervin Santana in free agency; the No. 40 pick in the competitive balance portion of the draft; and the No. 56 pick in the second round.

A 2011 graduate of Southwest High School in Fort Worth, Finnegan was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 45th round of the June Free Agent Draft that year, but opted to pitch at TCU.

Continue reading “Royals select TCU pitcher Finnegan in first round”

First-round pick coming to Idaho Falls for Opening Day

Kansas City Royals first-round draft pick Hunter Dozier, right, talks with Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland before a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, June 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

The Kansas City Royals signed their first-round pick, Hunter Dozier, on Monday, then announced at a press conference he’ll begin his professional career as an Idaho Falls Chukar on opening day.

The Royals and Dozier, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound shortstop from Stephen F. Austin State University, agreed to a signing bonus of $2.2 million. The eighth overall selection in last week’s MLB Draft will report to a mini-camp at the Royals’ facility in Surprise, Ariz., today, then head to Idaho Falls to begin his career, the Kansas City Star reported.

Dozier, 21, hit .396 this spring as junior, and ranked third in the NCAA Division I through the regional playoffs with a .755 slugging percentage. He also ranked fifth in doubles (25) and home runs (17). Continue reading “First-round pick coming to Idaho Falls for Opening Day”

Royals focus on college players on Day 2

The Kansas City Royals selected six college players and two high schoolers Friday during the second day of the MLB Draft.

The Royals started the day by picking right-handed pitcher Carter Hope from The Woodlands High School in Texas in the third round. They followed with Georgia Tech catcher Zane Evans in the fourth round and outfielder Amalani Fukofuka from James Logan High School in California in the fifth round.

But the biggest name came in the sixth round with the selection of Luke Farrell, the son of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Continue reading “Royals focus on college players on Day 2”

Royals nab former top prospect in supplemental round

The Kansas City Royals used their second selection Thursday to pick a flame-throwing lefty, Sean Manaea.

Manaea lit up the Cape Cod League last summer, touching 98 mph with his fastball. He entered the season projected as the No. 2 pick by ESPN’s Keith Law. But injuries dropped him to the 18th-ranked prospect by Baseball America prior to the draft.

He continued to slide Thursday to the 1st supplemental round, where the Royals selected the 6-foot-5 lefty with the 34th overall pick.

Manaea posted a 5-4 record with a 1.47 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings this spring at Indiana State. Last summer in the Cape Cod League, the top summer league in the country, he went 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA and struck out 85 in 51 2/3 innings. He earned the league’s top pitching honor and was named its top pro prospect.

The Royals have only selected one player in the 1st supplemental round since they took on the Idaho Falls Chukars as an affiliate. They sent that pick, current Los Angeles Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell, to Idaho Falls to begin his career in 2004.

Royals hint first-round pick headed to I.F.

In this February 2013 photo, Stephen F. Austin shortstop Hunter Dozier throws to first during a college baseball game against Louisiana Tech in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Kansas City Royals selected Dozier in the baseball draft Thursday. AP Photo / The Daily Sentinel, Andrew D. Brosig

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals used the eighth overall pick in Thursday’s Major League Baseball Draft to select Hunter Dozier, a shortstop from Stephen F. Austin State University. And he could start his career in Idaho Falls.

J.J. Picollo, who oversees the Royals’ scouting and player development, said that Dozier will likely start at short-season Idaho Falls or Burlington, N.C., when he signs a contract.

“Our goal this first summer is to get him on the ground, get him acclimated, get him playing every day,” Picollo said. “He already has played a lot of games this year, he’s in great shape, he’s ready to play, and by the end of the summer it’ll be a good, full season for him.”

His assignment to Idaho Falls would break the Royals’ history with highly-drafted college players. The Royals haven’t assigned a first-round college pick to Idaho Falls since 2004, when they sent left-handed pitcher Matt Campbell, the Royals’ second first-round that year, to start his career as a Chukar.

Since Idaho Falls became an affiliate, four of the Royals’ six first-round selections out of college started their careers at the Single-A level or higher. Continue reading “Royals hint first-round pick headed to I.F.”

Royals draft pair with Idaho ties

The Kansas City Royals drafted a pair of players with Idaho ties Tuesday during the second day of the Major League baseball Draft.

The Royals selected Zeb Sneed, a right-handed pitcher from Northwest Nazarene and a 2009 Twin Falls High School graduate, with the fifth pick of the 11th round (343th overall). They then went back to the Twin Falls area when they selected catcher Parker Morin, a junior at Utah who attended the College of Southern Idaho for two years.

Sneed, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, fastball has been clocked as high as 97 miles per hour. But he’s struggled with command, walking 46 and striking out 61 while posting a 5.00 ERA for Northwest Nazarene this spring.